This Dublin native has her sights set on the world. Rosey, also known as 玫瑰 (MeiGui), has been teaching in Shanghai for the last half of the year. Though she one time dreamed of a life in a monastery (“Not at random. The woman I was named after was a nun and I held her in great respect and to this day still believe she was the coolest nun ever”), Rosey now feels no particular preference to a life path. She’s letting it come. And come it will—just read her hilarious stories from the Middle Kingdom, her little homestay bro Bob, and how she persevered through (pretty significant) language barriers to make tons of new friends abroad.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself. You’re from Ireland, you’re teaching in China. What else is going on?!
I’m from Dublin which is Ireland’s capital; however, I do not have a strong accent nor do I look particularly Irish. But when it comes to my personality, I like to think my Irishness shows! I’m quite a bubbly and outgoing person. My sense of humour is the most Irish thing about me. I’m extremely optimistic (almost annoyingly so to some). 😉
I can always enjoy myself come rain or sunshine and rarely struggle to get on with people. I’m told I have “the gift of the gab.”
I am a big ball of energy in skin; I’ve got tons of vigor and am constantly on the move. This enables me to make the most out of my days. I have worked since I finished secondary school in various jobs, for example translating, teaching, bartending, chefing, construction, hotel events and much more (and for a 21 year old, that’s quite impressive!).
The only reason I have such an impressive resume is because on average I had 2 and 3 jobs going at the same time. That being said, I am not a workaholic or someone motivated by the thought of an income, I simply enjoy working in a social and happy environment and have ambition to excel whenever possible.
Tell us a fun story about Bob, your homestay kid brother.
Towards the end of my stay in Shanghai, I wanted make the most of my remaining time with Bob, so I took him out on the weekends with his parents permission. We went to the cinema, bowling, to a trampoline park, etc. I have several fond memories with Bob, but I do have a few favorites.
When we went to the trampoline park, I swear to god I will never forget his broad smile from ear to ear from the minute the trampolines were in sight. My friend and I spent a lot of time chasing him around the park which was rather sizable. This park had everything, from ziplines to obstacle courses, which would satisfy most children—but not Bob. His favorite aspect of the entire park was a two story ledge in the bottom corner that he would just dive off into a spongy padded section below.
For me this was terrifying, everytime he jumped so did my heart! I tried to persuade him to keep looking, that there was lots of other cool things to do and that I was afraid he would hurt himself. His response was perfect.
He said “It’s ok, it’s fun!” For you to understand what this meant to me, I have to explain that when I came to him in the first place, he genuinely thought I was crazy. He was terrified when we went cycling together because I would show him tricks and he saw me injure myself countless times (I’m injury prone) and my response since I met him on the very first time has and will always be “It’s ok, it’s fun.”
In my opinion, this meant I had taught him to worry less and simply enjoy himself which is more than I had ever expected. I am extremely proud of that.
Why do you want to become a teacher abroad?
Teaching English as a foreign language is an ingenious method for learning. For those of us who have it as a mother tongue, we already know its correct use and how it’s incorporated into everyday life, why not use this talent and share it?
Before discovering TEFL, I took English for granted. I studied German and have always tried to learn more and improve my other language skills and now through TEFL, I can pass on my English skill and exchange it for more language skills when teaching abroad.
My Mandarin, although I’m far from fluent, can be used happily and comfortably to converse with Chinese nationals. I apparently have a Sichuanese accent. Not to mention to sense of accomplishment afterwards is astonishing.
My little boy “My sweetie” Bob went from very limited English to expressing himself completely in English. He even dreamt in English—I know this because he was sleep talking in English. It’s simply amazing the result.
Do you make learning fun for students? How?
My little boy was only six, so his attention span was limited to a certain extent. Our lessons, in order to be successful, had to be fun and enjoyable. I turned everything possible into a game and I really mean everything. I kept changing the games to keep him interested.
When we were learning colours, I would shout out a random colour and the first person to touch an item of that colour would win. When we were learning animals, I would draw them on the whiteboard and he would have to guess what it was and act it out, for example a gorilla (his favorite animal). He would bang on his chest and hop around on all fours.
In general, if he saw that I wanted to play a game he was interested automatically. We both have a similar playful nature.
Describe a successful lesson. Tell why it was successful.
Throughout my time teaching Bob, we had many very successful lessons. I can’t take all the credit because Bob is a very smart boy. The day I taught Bob the alphabet I wrote the letters on the board and as I passed each letter I got him to follow along with me saying the names aloud.
We started to pass a ball back and forth to each other, and with each pass, we’d say the next letter out loud. It was so simple and enjoyable, but it really stuck. In that one lesson, he learnt the entire alphabet with almost perfect pronunciation. We continued to play the game on a regular basis—truly a very successful lesson.
What are some ways you can avoid behavior problems?
Bob, when I came first, was demanding and could be rude and bossy at times. This was at the very beginning when I still had a language barrier with him and was a little difficult to handle. I wouldn’t give into his demands or rudeness unless he used please and thank you and asked me nicely. I also told him it wasn’t nice and that it made me sad.
This took a while to sink in but it worked because he realised it was just easier to be nice. On two occasions he got upset, mostly because he was tired, and it just added to his frustration of not getting what he wanted, but on these occasions he involved his dad and his dad backed me up and praised me for not giving in. He explained to Bob that I was just helping him.
I think after Bob saw his dad stand up for me he had more trust in me. Apart from that, it was just repetition then consistency.
What is your favorite thing about your life abroad?
I genuinely enjoyed the entire experience; it’s simply a different world. From the insanely beautiful surroundings to the abstractly modern yet traditional mindsets, truly everything is interesting (and almost too much to take in).
I was in Shanghai for six months, so I would be comfortable to say I got a good image of the general lifestyles over there. My favorite aspect of the trip was my interactions with the people there, my new friends that truly made my experience that little bit more fantastic. I was welcomed by everybody and was met with kindness from every angle.
Tell us the most unexpected challenge of being an international ESL teacher, and how you’re rising above it like a badass.
I had no real issues with Bob, we got on like a house on fire from the very first day. My only challenge was at the very beginning, Bob and I found it difficult to communicate. This was more difficult than I had anticipated simply because when Bob would say something to me directly, I had genuinely no idea what he was saying. When he said anything to me, I would try and guess what he wanted or what he was saying, which simply doesn’t work when you’re not familiar with the person and their needs. It’s like a game of charades without the gestures.
So, I would try and guess and he would try help by simplifying his Chinese but to no avail as I still had no idea what was going on at times. He would get frustrated at my inability to understand him and get really upset. I couldn’t comfort him easily without the language which made me feel awful, I could do nothing so I just sat with him making funny faces until he calmed down and gave me a smile.
We just had to go slow with each other but it takes some time to get into that practice. That definitely does not make me a badass, but humour and funny faces bridged our language gap.
Has your family been supportive of your journey?
My family were unsure of me at that start and I was completely oblivious. I had no expectations in particular, I knew it would be a little uncomfortable moving in with strangers. Apparently tattoos, piercings, smoking, and drinking are quite taboo topics for the older generations in China, especially as a girl.
Luckily for me I ticked all boxes for these topics. It’s funny because I got so close with all the members in the family, even the extended family. The family treated me with nothing but kindness, it was a little awkward at the start because of the obvious language barrier. I tried to be as gracious as possible and not to stand on anyone’s toes but anything I needed or wanted they helped with or provided.
The granny, when making dinner, would make me an extra spicy vegetarian dish just because she knew I liked it. The dad, when buying the groceries, would buy me beer and ice cream without asking, and we would have a drink together over dinner, which are such simple yet sweet gestures. I couldn’t have possibly asked for a better family they added to my experience.
Xiexie Rosey, have a blast abroad!